John Marshall's Constitutionalism Public Deposited

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  • March 19, 2019
  • Ray, Clyde
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Political Science
  • Although often cited for his formidable role in shaping early American jurisprudence, John Marshall is seldom conceived as a political thinker. This dissertation provides insight into this neglected dimension of Marshall’s thought by examining his constitutional theory in the context of three of his most important Supreme Court opinions: Marbury v. Madison (1801), McCulloch v. Maryland (1819), and Ogden v. Saunders (1827). While many scholars have viewed Marshall’s thought in exclusively partisan or legal terms, this interpretation draws attention to Marshall as a constitutional theorist concerned with the Constitution’s basic moral legitimacy; its sovereignty over national and state government policy; and its ability to instill habits of democratic citizenship. I argue that these commitments illustrate Marshall’s commitment to the Constitution as a source of national identity during the early-nineteenth century. In light of this recovery of Marshall’s political thought, I contend that Marshall’s constitutionalism makes critical contributions to our understanding of the creation of the American nation as well as debates concerning constitutional authority in the present day.
Date of publication
Resource type
Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Lienesch, Michael
  • Spinner-Halev, Jeff
  • Kessler, Sanford
  • Bickford, Susan
  • McGuire, Kevin T.
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2016

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